Pressure mounts on Tory MP to resign over football loan

"Mackintosh's own local party have now turned on him over the scandal, with senior members calling for him to resign."
"Mackintosh's own local party have now turned on him over the scandal, with senior members calling for him to resign."
Natalie Bloomer By

Conservative MP David Mackintosh is facing increasing pressure to resign over his involvement in the loss of a £10.25 million loan to Northampton Town football club by the local council.

The loan, which was supposed to be used to redevelop the club's stadium, was approved by Mackintosh while he was leader of the council but the work was never carried out and the money has not been repaid. 

Mackintosh's own local party have now turned on him over the scandal, with senior members calling for him to resign.

Sources from Northampton South Conservative Association told Politics.co.uk that a motion due to be discussed at a meeting on Friday will in effect be a vote of no confidence in the MP.


"It's a pretty unprecedented step for us. We have no power to remove him but we can apply pressure on him to resign," one source said.

Another said that they are desperate to get rid of him before the county council elections due to be held next year.

"He has damaged the name of the Conservative party. We are really frightened about the impact it is going to have on us at the next election."

It is thought the MP still has the support of the central party, although local figures believe this is only because it wants to avoid another byelection. However, when Politics.co.uk contacted Conservative Party HQ they refused to provide a statement on the matter and instead referred it back to the MP's office.

David Mackintosh is the MP for Northampton South

An internal audit by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) recently found that Northampton Borough council approved the football club loan without proper checks, and that Mackintosh had stressed the importance of the transaction being carried out promptly.

At a fiery council meeting last night, the authors of the PwC report said that emails between Mackintosh and officers at the council showed there was pressure to have the loan pushed through quickly.

The leader of the local Liberal Democrat Group, Sally Beardsworth, told the meeting that in all her years of being a councillor she had never seen anything similar rushed through in this way.

The local Labour party are also been calling for the MP to resign, saying that he has now become an embarrassment to the town.

"David Mackintosh must resign his seat,” Labour group leader Danielle Stone said.

"It is clear that he has lost the confidence of his local Conservative Association. To be honest, he has become a national embarrassment for Northampton."

David Mackintosh said: "My door has always been open to constituents and members of the party who want to speak to me about the loan or any other issue, and I have previously spoken with the association’s management committee on this.

"I apologise for the part I played in the granting of the loan to Northampton Town Football Club, and I am sorry that our efforts to support the club ended as they did.

"I do, however, refute the suggestion that undue pressure was put on officers to deliver the loan. As leader of the council, I always expected projects to be delivered without unnecessary delay, but never asked or pressured officers to cut corners.

"The report published by Price Waterhouse Cooper has shed some light on what went wrong at the council when the loan was being put together, and I hope this means the same mistakes will never be repeated."

Natalie Bloomer is a journalist at Politics.co.uk. You can follow her on Twitter here.

 

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